How Doctors Misdiagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Missing Problems

With as many as one in ten people thought to be affected by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), experts are now talking about an ‘epidemic’.The disorder, which is characterised by gut pain, bloating and diarrhoea, can be triggered by a bout of food poisoning or antibiotics, but often there may be no obvious cause.Some studies suggest a genetic link; Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also strongly associated with stress and anxiety – modern, hectic lifestyles and poor diet have been blamed for the rise in numbers of those affected.

But there are concerns that the condition is being overdiagnosed and, as a result, other, more serious conditions are being missed.A study by the University of Nottingham and John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, last year found that one in ten people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis – was initially misdiagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Other conditions that can be mistaken for IBS include bowel, stomach and ovarian cancer, as well as endometriosis (where womb-like tissue grows elsewhere in the body) and coeliac disease (an adverse reaction to gluten). Part of the problem is that IBS is a syndrome – a selection of symptoms – with no definitive test to rule it in or out